I routinely talk on social media and the key reason I do, is I believe the founders of many social media products were looking for ways to improve our lives in a very noble way, but as with anything, when put in the hands of people, we can not only use them as intended but cannibalize them like a pack of vultures bringing out the negative effects if there are any to be had. And even worse yet, social media products can be the “vice” for some addicts looking to fill voids in their life much like heroin or cocaine does other addicts. But for most, the addiction or vice is simply “The Jones’s”.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I had the awesome privilege of speaking to the 7th and 8th Graders of Great Bend Middle School. And I visited with them on how evil these little thin bricks we put in our back pocket can be. These phones can be not only an addiction but also serves as the Jones’s. I explained to them the Jones’s, of which for me when I grew up, was something you had to see physically. Whether it was your friend that had the pair of tennis shoes you wanted or a baseball card they may have had, and of course as you got older, maybe it was your friend that had better care that you then thought you needed to have. Or for adults, maybe it was the house of someone you desired to have. Before Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc, you had to see the object in real life. But TODAY, for these young people, “The Jones’s” now reside in their back pocket, and they can’t get away from them. It is a non-stop barrage of social media highlight reels of physical objects, places people eat, vacations or trips, sporting events, and concerts, or the various parties be it a birthday, weddings, etc.
For some, social media can end up driving why you do what you do. So much so, that I recently read an article about a couple who almost got a divorce after their honeymoon to Aruba given the bride’s thought process of, “I had to prove to the world that I was having a good time.” As her husband described, “It was a sunset nightmare. It was like a photoshoot for some magazine that would never exist.”, as his wife was trying to get the perfect sunset beach shot of herself for social media. And today, not only young couples looking for “likes” and validation from followers and friends, our youth are looking for the same thing. And for this couple, they almost separated after the trip.
The key is, your family, your desire to do better and get better should be driving what we do. Not social media and getting likes, or confirmation and affirmation of “yes, I am living the life!” We shouldn’t be compelled to prove to the world through social media our existence of our highlight reel. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook life social living can be so empty. Comparison living is destroying people, couples, and most importantly our kids and youth. We need to be in the present, and teach our kids the same, not focusing on what others are going to see on Instagram or Facebook. Followed by a healthy dose of contentment through gratitude and thanksgiving.
Now as for those Middle School kids, I challenged the 8th Graders to delete their social media account such as Instagram, by asking them what value does it truly bring to their lives. What truly intrinsic value does it do to improve their lives? As most of what I think is happening for our kids and youth is a norm of hurt feelings, comparison living, and the allowance of anyone and everyone (some porn addicts), into their lives and our living rooms simply through the slim brick in our back pockets called “The Jones’s” we can’t seem to get away from! Let’s take back our kids’ lives!!!!!